10 Things You (May or May not) Need to Know Before Coming to New Zealand

A friend of mine is planning to go to New Zealand in the near future and despite having several other friends who have been to New Zealand as well, I somehow gained the reputation as a “New Zealand expert”. We’ve been chatting about random tips and things to know and a very mixed list of things emerged that, somewhat, still seem relevant and important. I don’t think you need to know all of those things before coming to New Zealand, but it’ll certainly help.

Here are 10 things you (may or may not) need to know before coming to New Zealand.

1. Want to save money on the road? Pak’n’Save is a budget supermarket while Warehouse is a store to get clothes, stationery, toys and much more on a budget.

2. Speaking of food and drink on a budget, don’t bother going to Starbucks in NZ. Most cafés in NZ make better coffee for a much better price than Starbucks. On a similar note, want a truly Kiwi coffee experience? Then order a Flat White.

flat white infographic
What is the difference between a cappuccino and a flat white

3. Here is a brief guide to the pronunciations of a few Maori words, especially city names. In the Maori language, there is a W and a Wh consonant. The W is pronounced like your average W in the English language as in the example “Water”. In the Maori language there are, however, several ways to pronounce the Wh consonant and one way is to pronounce it is like a F as in the word “free”. In other words, the city Whakatane is pronounced as fah-kə-TAH-nee while the city Whanganui, on the other hand, is pronounced as follows:

When coming to NZ, you’ll hear “Kia Ora” very frequently which simply means “hello”. A pronunciation of Kia Ora, and a great dictionary and helpful tool for pronunciations can be found on http://maoridictionary.co.nz/

4. Greenstone is the Kiwi word for Nephrite-Jade while Pounamu is the Maori word for it. Greenstone, or Pounamu is highly valued in New Zealand and was “used by Maori to denote status and authority, for adornment, and for making peace.” Source: https://teara.govt.nz/

5. Do your research before getting Maori designs tattooed. I’m not a Maori, I have no authority to tell you what to do or what not to do when it comes to Maori tattooing. However, I can leave a few resources for you to check out and make your own informed decision:
The difference between ‘kirituhi’ and ‘moko’
Resurrection of Ta-moko raises questions
Why this model’s ta-moko is offensive
Maori Tattoo Designs: Think Before You Ink

In case you’re wondering, no I have no Maori designs tattooed and I’m not going to get any, ever. There are other ways to memorialise your trip with some ink. For example, I’ve got a fern tattoo on my arm which I love.


6. Auckland has the world’s largest Polynesian population. So if you’re curious to explore Polynesian culture, but can’t make it to one of the Polynesian islands, the annual Pasifika Festival is a great way to get a glimpse of Polynesian culture.

7. Thinking of renting a car in New Zealand? Jucy Car rentals are a popular option . If you’re a traveller with a disability or chronic illness, Freedom Mobility offers an extensive range of modified cars and vans.

8. Don’t want to rent or buy a car, but rather rely on public transport? Intercity and Manabus will bring you to (almost) everywhere


9. Don’t just explore New Zealand with tips from a travel guide, go and check out a local i-Site. Services that an i-Site offers includes, but is not limited to: Free maps, accommodation options and bookings, activity bookings, and transportation options and bookings. Source: https://www.backpackerguide.nz/the-i-site

10. Last but not least, you want to do X? Then go to Y:
You want to explore Maori Culture? Then Go to Rotorua.
You want to taste the best coffee in the World? Then go to Wellington.
You’re into surfing? Don’t miss Gisborne and the North Island’s east coast.
You’re into extreme sports? Queenstown is THE place to be.
You want to explore wildlife? Kaikoura is a popular destination for marine and wildlife encounters.

Got any further, possibly random, tips for first time visitors to New Zealand? Share them in the comments down below!


6 thoughts on “10 Things You (May or May not) Need to Know Before Coming to New Zealand

  1. Great tips! As a Brit living in Auckland I’d add the following also;

    Follow Grabaseat and Jetstar Friday Frenzy (on a Friday only obvs) for cheap flights deals around the country

    For surfing also check out Raglan and the east coast beaches

    For Lord of the Rings fans, don’t miss the Tongariro Crossing to see Mount Doom but Hobbiton comes at a hefty price and you can’t go into the hobbit holes.

    Stardome Observatory in Auckland is an often overlooked little treasure

    Greenstone or Pounamu should not be bought for yourself, but should always be gifted

    (Bonus interesting dull fact: The longest place name in the world exists in New Zealand (in Pourangahu in Hawke’s Bay), called Tetaumata­whakatangihanga­koaua­o­tamatea­urehaeaturipuka­pihimaunga­horo­nuku­pokaiwhenuaa­kitana­rahu)

    Liked by 1 person

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